Friday, March 23, 2012

End Game - 2 of four

My wife’s mother and father, Ruth and Al, started visiting New Vrindaban shortly after we moved here in 1976. (Ruci and I had heard that whatever you undertake on Gaura Purnima would meet with success. And so after three years at the Chicago temple, we came here on the eve of Lord Caitanya’s appearance.) Of course, Ruth and Al didn’t really understand the choice we had made in accepting Krishna Consciousness, but they were open and accepting.

In those days the only half decent place at New Vrindaban was a couple of rooms in a trailer near the temple which was kept by Mother Vedapriya for herself and any stray guests who might show up.. The devotees themselves lived very austerely. The only toilet by the temple was an outhouse which was used year round. The bathing facility was small and the floor in the adjacent dressing room was always wet. To avoid getting your socks wet was a balancing act. Devotees would balance on one foot, put on a sock on the other foot and then quickly slip that foot into a boot. Ruth and Al later told us they avoided both going to the toilet or bathing on the premises during those early years visiting with us.

A few years after their first visit Ruth and Al retired and moved to Florida. They then started visiting twice a year. The conditions for visitors mercifully improved. In the late spring they would drive up from Florida, stay here for several days and then head for New Jersey, sojourning with their son and then their older daughter. Then they continued north to Maine and through Nova Scotia. Their destination was Prince Edward Island where they vacationed for the summer in a modest cottage. At the end of the summer they retraced their drive, returning to Florida. Their round trip excursion was over 4000 miles. Al drove that route until he was 90.

By then Ruci and I had purchased a house near Prabhupada’s Palace. Actually, Prabhupada stayed in this house and gave dharsan on the front lawn during his fourth and last visit to New Vrindaban in June of 1976. Ruth and Al, 87 and 90 respectively, were just beginning to get concerned about their old age. They knew they couldn’t go on by themselves indefinitely and asked if they could come and live with us. They had been so supportive and accepting of us all those years. They were always happy to see the devotees and also enjoyed conversing with them as well as with the visitors who came to the community. We suspected that it might eventually become a burden for us but we couldn’t say no.